How much influence do we possess over our metabolism, and in essence our bodies and our overall health? You might be surprised. While for many people, metabolism may be a source of constant frustration and feel like something outside of their control, clinical practice and research reveal that our everyday choices and how we live can have a huge impact on metabolism, that there is more within our reach than we realize. These questions and themes are explored in depth in Volume Two of “Metabolism & Medicine,” a new, two-part series from Brian Fertig, M.D., F.A.C.E.
Using the parameters of physics and biological chemistry, Volume Two builds on the insights of Volume One to illustrate metabolism’s central role in the body’s stress response, how inflammation affects disease risk, and how the erosion of metabolic processes, which can include diet and exercise or the lack thereof, send us into states of chronic illness. How does our body convert food into energy, process stress, experience the highs or lows of fluctuating inflammation, and shift from being in a state of good health to a state of disease such as diabetes or cancer? How does metabolism speed up aging? Dr. Fertig shares his insights.
Metabolism may feel complex and overwhelming but science shows that people have more free will over their own metabolism and biological responses that they might initially suspect. Volume Two explores how voluntary behaviors over time create unhealthy patterns that in turn, disrupt normal metabolic mechanisms—and how it’s possible that before these unhealthy patterns cause potentially irreversible damage, lifestyle changes and clinical interventions may ultimately prevent chronic disease.
Even mindless everyday snacking—which is ubiquitous in American life—can take its toll on human health, and Volume Two of “Metabolism & Medicine” investigates step by step where these breakdowns occur, and how identifying and intervening beforehand can potentially change the course of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders. For example, frequent overeating literally changes cellular behavior, which, in turn, promotes inflammation, which over time, can become systemic and lead to problematic patterns in metabolic processes. Cells become overwhelmed by the amount of calories, or energy, that now requires conversion. Inflammation also affects the brain, minimizing the body’s response to stress. Cumulative stress then begins to impair diet, sleep, and other circadian behaviors. A harmful metabolic cycle is in place without the individual feeling any clinical symptoms that would indicate illness.
Metabolism is the sum of its parts, a centrifuge of sorts between health and disease, which presents an opportunity to change the outcome. This is where Dr. Fertig brings in the notion of predicting illness in a more patient-specific way.
Volume Two discusses a new quantitative and qualitative paradigm in which to forecast metabolic breakdowns that could lead to disease or what some refer to as precision medicine. Dr. Fertig introduces a potent mathematical model, the Physiological Fitness Landscape, a modality that could bring a more data-driven approach that personalizes medical care, making treatment not only more patient-specific but disease-specific. This volume builds on the findings and foundations laid out in volume one, which scrutinizes the dynamic relationships between energy and force, and how metabolic processes can sway good health or result in a domino effect that leads to chronic disease. Whereas volume one lays out the landscape of metabolism and human health, volume two goes further into understanding the problems and creating solutions to improve how we live.
Understanding and improving your health is our top priority, and learning more about your metabolism, how it works, and what types of everyday changes you can do to promote better choices is a first step to a longer, healthier life. As Founder and President of the Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center in Piscataway, N.J., which was established in 1994, Dr. Fertig has worked for the past 30 years to mitigate the incidence and prevalence of metabolic disorders. He also serves as Associate Professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and as Chair of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Hackensack Meridian Health, JFK University Medical Center in Edison, N.J.
“Medicine & Metabolism” reflects decades of firsthand experience, research, and clinical knowledge, and offers readers insights into how we as individuals and as a society can redirect our efforts towards living more active, disease-free lives. To learn more, read Dr. Fertig’s interview with the renowned Deepak Chopra and his interview with colleague and collaborator Dr. Jack. Tuszynski.